Hinesburg dairy farmer wins grant to build feeding structure

A Hinesburg organic dairy farmer has won a $40,000 state grant to help finance building an outdoor winter feeding area for his cows.

Baldwin Farms will receive the funds from the state Dairy Improvement Grant program, according to a recent announcement. Matt Baldwin, of Hinesburg, operates an 85-cow organic dairy farm in Monkton where the project will be built. Baldwin also has farmland in Shelburne and the original family farm is in Hinesburg.

The focus of the grant-funded project will be to build a new barn structure with an open feeding area that will allow animals to come and go to feed, spend time outdoors, and return to their enclosed barn.

During wintertime when animals spend more time indoors, Baldwin said, the cows need to be fed at their stalls multiple times a day. “This will be a much easier method of feeding,” Baldwin said. “This will free us up immensely.”

The Vermont Farm & Forest Viability Program, a program of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, awarded a total of $368,794 to 12 Vermont farms through its Water Quality and Dairy Improvement Grant programs.

Nearly $222,000 was awarded in the dairy improvement grant program to a total of eight farmers in Chittenden, Orleans, Franklin, Windham, and Addison counties. Another grant recently awarded to a Chittenden County dairy was $40,000 to Robert and Normand Thibault in Colchester. Their grant will help pay for a wastewater and manure storage system.

The grants will be used to support infrastructure improvement projects with combined costs of over $1.1 million aimed to improve cow health, cow comfort, farm efficiency, and water quality. Funding for the Dairy Improvement Grants comes from Ehrmann Commonwealth Dairy, LLC, producers of Green Mountain Creamery Greek yogurt from Vermont milk.

Another $147,000 went to five farms from Rutland, Franklin, and Addison counties as water quality grants. Those grants will leverage $1.6 million in additional funding for capital improvement projects to reduce runoff and improve manure management and soil health.
The grants are matched by farmers’ funds, bank loans, and grant funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets. Funding for the Water Quality Grants comes from the State of Vermont’s Capital Construction and Bonding Act.

Anson Tebbetts, Secretary of the Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, said the grants are especially helpful to farmers during a time of low milk prices, enabling them to invest in their operations. “The outcomes of these projects, ranging from better tracking of animal health to eliminating run-off, will have positive impacts for the ecological and economic health of Vermont’s farms,” Tebbetts said.

Vermont farmers with a gross farm income of $15,000 or more are eligible to apply for grants of up to $40,000. Information about grants and upcoming deadlines is online at vhcb.org/viability or call 828-5587.

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